12 November: Public Service Broadcasting Day

The Public Service Broadcasting Day was observed across India on November 12, 2018. The day is observed every year to commemorate the first and last visit of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi to the studio of All India Radio, Delhi in 1947.

Mahatma Gandhi had on November 12, 1947, visited the studio of All India Radio to address the displaced people from Pakistan who were temporarily settled in Kurukshetra, Haryana after the partition of the Indian subcontinent.

About the Day

On November 12, 2018, 70 years ago Mahatma Gandhi visited the AIR office for his first and last live broadcast.

Gandhi had decided to convey his message through radio, as he couldn’t visit the refugees of Partition stationed at Kurukshetra in Haryana.

“I see ‘shakti’, the miraculous power of God,” Gandhiji had reportedly said about the medium of radio as he entered the studio.

Gandhi began his speech around 3:30 pm. He began by saying, “My brothers and sisters who are suffering, I do not know if only you or some other people are also listening to it….”

The words, which were spoken by Gandhi on that day, became a treasure and a snippet of the speech is played on November 12 every year.

Mahatma Gandhi was neither the Prime Minister nor the President, he didn’t hold any post. Like a common citizen, he spoke from the AIR studio.

He used to run several newspapers and understood the power of media and hence, was completely against commercial ads and believed that only those non-commercial ads should be accepted that serve some public purpose. For him, the aim of media was service.

The day was declared as the Jan Prasaran Diwas (Public Service Broadcasting Day) in 2000, after it was conceptualized by Suhas Borker, Convenor, Jan Prasar.

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Ladakh restoration project wins UNESCO award, two Mumbai projects find honourable mention

Restoration of an aristocratic house from a state of partial ruin in Ladakh has won a UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for conservation, the world body announced Friday.

While the Ladakh project won in the category of Award of Distinction under UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, rejuvenation of a university clock tower and a fountain in Mumbai have jointly received Honourable Mention, along with a project in China.

The LAMO Center in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region was chosen for its systematic restoration project that used salvaged and local building materials, and indigenous construction techniques while adroitly introducing modern amenities to assure its ongoing use, UNESCO Bangkok said in a statement.

From Mumbai, the restoration projects of the iconic Rajabai Clock Tower of Mumbai University and Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha Fountain, both belonging to the colonial-era have received Honourable Mention.

Noted conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, whose earlier restoration projects in the city have also UNESCO heritage conservation awards, was ecstatic after the announcement.

The challenge was to restore its water engineering too, apart from the architectural conservation, he said.

Funded and now looked after by the KGA it took about a year for restoration, the Mumbai-based architect said.

The project sets a model for its seamless approach to safeguarding built heritage intertwined with intangible cultural heritage in a mutually enriching way, the UNESCO statement said.

On the renewal of the Rajabai Clock Tower and Library, the citation said, it opens up a new chapter for one of the city’s significant neo-Gothic landmarks.

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India wins Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management Award, 2018

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is an institutional member of Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) which is a non-profit association representing an international network of over 1100 senior public servants, Heads of Government, leading academics and researchers located in over 50 different countries across the Commonwealth.

About CAPAM:

Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) is a non-profit association representing an international network of over 1100 senior public servants, Heads of Government, leading academics and researchers located in over 50 different countries across the Commonwealth.

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is an institutional member of Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM).

CAPAM has been announcing its International Innovations Awards (IIA) Programme bi-annually, since 1998. The CAPAM Awards celebrate the spirit of innovation in the public service by recognizing organizations that have made significant contributions to improve governance and services in the public sector.

Unnayan Banka:

The initiative entitled “Unnayan Banka- Reinventing Education Using Technology of Banka District, State of Bihar has been awarded under the Category “Innovation Incubation”.

“Unnayan Banka” is an initiative which envisages “Quality education for all’ especially for those at the bottom of the Pyramid, using latest technologies. It’s a holistic model of overall development of youths from Education to Employability.

Unified Agriculture Markets:

“Unified Agriculture Markets” of Co-operation Department of Government of Karnataka has also been selected under the Category ‘Innovation in Public Service Management’.  This initiative has also been awarded the overall Gold Award for CAPAM Awards, 2018

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Tagore Awards for Cultural Harmony: Manipuri dancer, Bangladeshi sculptor among recipients

The Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were announced on and awarded to a distinguished Manipuri dancer, a Bangladesh-based cultural organisation and an eminent sculptor, respectively.

The award jury was headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and included Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi, former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami and national vice president of the BJP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.

The award was instituted by the government during the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in 2011. It was conferred first on sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. It carries an award prize of Rs 1 crore, a citation in a scroll and a plaque.

For 2014, the award was given to Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, a doyen of Manipuri dance who is also a teacher, performer and choreographer.

Chhayanaut, established in 1961, which has played a leading role in promoting Tagore’s works in Bengali culture, won the award for 2015.

For 2016, the award was given to sculptor Ram Vanji Sutar, whose first notable work was the 45-feet Chambal monument at the Gandhi Sagar Dam in Madhya Pradesh.

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Maryse Conde: Guadeloupe author wins alternative Nobel Literature Prize

Maryse Conde, one of the Caribbean’s most renowned authors, has won an award created to replace this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

The prestigious literature prize was suspended this year after a scandal at the Swedish Academy, which awards it.

The Guadeloupian author, 81, said she was “very happy and proud” to win the alternative version.

The Nobel Prize for Literature was suspended after a crisis over its handling of allegations against Frenchman Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of one of the academy’s members.

He has been jailed for two years for rape. He has appealed against his conviction, according to Swedish media.

Several members of the academy, including its head Professor Sara Danius, quit over the scandal in April.

The alternative prize was set up by an organization calling itself the New Academy, comprising more than 100 Swedish writers, artists, and journalists. It will be dissolved in December.

The four shortlisted writers were among a list of 47 authors nominated by Sweden’s librarians before voting was opened worldwide.


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Reasons why Paul Romer, William Nordhaus won 2018 Nobel Prize in economics

William Nordhaus and Paul Romer have been awarded the 2018 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (colloquially known as the economics Nobel). Both are macroeconomists dealing with long-run dynamics – big questions of what spurs economic growth, the importance of sustainable growth and how to tackle climate change.

The mainstream economic analysis of the 1970s, when Romer was a graduate student and Nordhaus was an assistant professor, was mostly dedicated to what’s known as general equilibrium analysis: if consumers were to maximize their utilities, and producers were to maximize their profits, what would happen? Both Romer and Nordhaus provided key insights into thinking about what happens over time. That is, how our individual decisions today shape the outcomes for society as a whole in the future. They both framed their ideas in the then-nascent field of economic growth, and both changed it completely.

The concept of economic growth was jump-started by Robert Solow (who won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in 1987) with a model that connected the decision to save with the amount of capital available in the economy. It was mostly used as a device to connect the past and the future by obtaining constant growth rates that made sure the economy scaled with time.

But economists failed to address the underlying reasons for technological progress – it was just assumed to happen – and they took the fact that it had risen enormously since the industrial revolution for granted. There was little interest in why some countries grow faster than others: after all, it was assumed, everyone in the world was using similar technologies.

Romer’s contribution

Romer, it has been suggested, was inspired by a graph showing how economic growth has skyrocketed since the industrial revolution and decided he wanted to get to the bottom of it.

In doing so, Romer changed the old approach to economic growth completely. Instead of technological growth simply happening – as if falling upon the economy from the sky – his doctoral thesis assumed that economic agents, such as people or businesses, can actively affect the speed of economic growth. The nice thing about ideas, Romer put forward, is that if I use your idea, you are not one idea short. This is different from capital, labor, and other classical factors of production. If we all produce more ideas, we all benefit from these new ideas, not just the people who produce them.

The rate of growth of GDP per person began to meaningfully depend upon the proportion of the labor force dedicated to developing new ideas.

Obviously, more people producing ideas means fewer people producing goods in the short run. But you’d get a higher rate of growth in the long run due to more ideas leading to better productivity. Other economists followed this line of thinking (Robert Barro, Daron Acemoglu, Philippe Aghion – all prize candidates for a few years now), and the Journal of Economic Growth that covers these topics is now one of the most prestigious and most cited in economics.

Nordhaus’ work

William Nordhaus is known to many who studied economics 20 years ago. The Economics textbook he wrote with Paul Samuelson was translated into 17 languages for undergraduate introductory courses; I myself used a Russian translation in the 1990s. Nordhaus, at the same time, had a different take on economic growth as a fundamental virtue.

Growth in the 1980s was very mechanical, aimed mostly at obtaining a certain growth rate and ignoring the fact that many economic goods, such as natural resources and clean air, are hard to reproduce. Climate change and its effect on everyone’s well-being, he pointed out, is not a part of national accounts, while profits and GDP are. Under his guidance, the Dynamic Integrated and Regional Integrated climate models (known as DICE and RICE) were developed to take climate change explicitly into account when analyzing global changes such as the Kyoto protocol.

Nordhaus’ work was not only to be included in academic syllabi: the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency used it to analyze the social cost of carbon dioxide emissions. Other economists, such as Martin Weitzman or Partha Dasgupta, were also instrumental in this field and could have shared this prize.

Fundamentally, both Romer and Nordhaus have contributed to the economics profession in the same way. They recognized that economic growth should not be driven solely by putting more stuff into factories and getting more out of them. They recognized that people can influence growth by their choices – whether that’s the speed of growth through exchanging ideas (Romer) or what that growth looks like and how sustainable it is (Nordhaus). And, most importantly, they drove many other economists toward these issues.

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ESIC wins ‘ISSA GOOD Practice Award, Asia & the Pacific 2018’

The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has won the ‘ISSA Good Practice Award’ for Administrative Solution for Coverage Extension at the “Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific” held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.

The award recognizes the measures taken by ESIC for extension of coverage-SPREE (Scheme for Promoting Registration of Employers and Employees), reduced rate of contribution rates for 24 months in newly implemented areas and raising the wage limit for coverage under the ESI Act, etc.

About the International Social Security Association:

  • The ISSA is the principal international organization for Social Security Organizations, Govts. and Departments of Social Security.
  • The ISSA was founded in 1927 under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva.
  • It promotes excellence in social security administration through professional guidelines, expert knowledge, services, and support to enable its Members to develop dynamic social security systems.
  • The ESI Corporation hosts ISSA Liaison Office for South Asia at New Delhi. The Liasion Office coordinates with the Member countries and Social Security Institutions in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran on activities of ISSA related to social security.
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Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad jointly awarded 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

Murad and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the prize for their “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war,” Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in unveiling the winners in Oslo.

The 25-year-old Murad, her thin, pale face framed by her long brown hair, once lived a quiet life in her village near the mountainous Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar in northern Iraq, close to the border with Syria.

But when the so-called Islamic State jihadist group stormed across swathes of the two countries in 2014, her fate changed forever and her nightmare began.

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James P. Allison, Tasuku Honjo jointly win 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute on October 1, 2018 awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”.

Cancer therapy: Releasing the brakes of immunity

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. The laureates James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly conferred to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation”.

The duo successfully established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy by stimulating the ability of immune system to attack tumour cells. It is called “Immune checkpoint therapy”. They showed how different strategies for slowing down the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. Their discoveries are landmark in fight against cancer.

Nobel Physics Prize:

Three scientists Arthur Ashkin (USA), Gerard Mourou (France) and Donna Strickland (Canada) have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. They were selected for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.

Arthur Ashkin: He received prize for optical tweezers and their application to biological systems. His optical tweezers are able to grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers, allowing use of radiation pressure of light to move physical objects.

Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland: They were jointly awarded for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. They have created ultrashort high-intensity laser pulses without destroying amplifying material, thus paving way towards shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind. Their innovative technique is known as ‘chirped pulse amplification’ (CPA), has now become standard for high-intensity lasers, including ultra-sharp beams used in corrective eye surgeries.

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Frances Arnold, George Smith, Gregory Winter win 2018 Nobel Chemistry Prize

Scientists Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for research using directed evolution to produce enzymes for new chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the award-giving body.

“This year’s Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have been inspired by the power of evolution and used the same principles genetic change and selection to develop proteins that solve mankind’s chemical problems,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 9 million Swedish crown ($1 million)prize.

Chemistry is the third of this year’s Nobel’s and comes after the prizes for Medicine and Physics were awarded earlier this week. ($1 = 8.9739 Swedish crowns)

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